March 8, 2018 / 1:20 PM / 13 days ago

Turkish military seizes control of Jinderes town in Syria's Afrin region: Anadolu

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies seized control of the town of Jinderes on Thursday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported, giving them control of one of the largest settlements in Syria’s northwest Afrin region.

A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter gestures after Free Syrian Army forces took control of Kafr Jana village, north of Afrin, Syria. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

The Turkish army and its allies from Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions pushed fighters from the Syrian Kurdish YPG out of the town center on Thursday following intense clashes, it said, adding that operations to secure the area were continuing.

Air raids on the Jinderes town center had intensified after Turkish forces and the FSA captured the hill overlooking it a day earlier, Anadolu said.

Turkey and its allies have so far seized five of the seven urban centers in the Afrin region, it said.

Turkey launched its air and ground assault on Afrin, dubbed Operation Olive Branch, in January to drive out the YPG, which it sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency on Turkish soil since 1984. The PKK is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Turkey’s foreign minister said on Thursday the operation will be completed by May.

On Tuesday, Kurdish-allied Syrian Arab militias said they are redeploying 1,700 fighters from fronts against Islamic State to the Afrin region to help fend off the Turkish offensive.

The United States, which has infuriated Turkey with its support for the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said Turkey’s offensive on Afrin has diverted attention from the fight against Islamic State.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by David Dolan

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